Indirect effects of least weasel presence on field vole behaviour and demography: a field experiment

Predation by small mustelids is widely considered to be the most likely mechanism to maintain multiannual fluctuations of vole populations in Fennoscandia. Apart from the direct effect of predation, small mustelids have been suggested to. have indirect effects on vole population dynamics. We studied in a field experiment the indirect effects of the presence of the least weasel (Mustela nivalis nivalis) on behaviour and demography of field voles (Microtus agrestis). We constructed grids made of drainpipe with small holes and covering an area of 0.24 ha (4 x 6-m grid, pipes with 10-m intervals). A least weasel moved in the experimental grid without having access to voles during the entire experiment, lasting for 11 weeks. We analysed the rate of maturation, breeding success, movements, and home range use of field voles in the experimental and control grids. The results indicate that weasel’s presence had no or had only minor effects on voles. [References: 49] 49

Author P. Hellstedt, T. Kalske and I. Hanski
Year 2002
Secondary title Annales Zoologici Fennici
Volume 39
Number 3
Pages 257-265